The many parts of a construction project

Any construction project is a complex undertaking. It involves many different stakeholders, professionals, government officials and regulations, and dozens of other unpredictable factors. In general, a construction project can be broken down into 3-6 different phases

  1. Conception and initialization. This is the basic planning phase, when it’s figured whether or not the project will be feasible/make money. Consideration is also given to whether or not the project is logistically/technically possible and profitable. This phase is sometimes combined with phase 2. You can read our detailed phase 1 guide here.
  2. Planning and pre-construction. After it’s determined that the project is feasible, detailed planning begins. This is one of the most important parts of a construction project. This is when detailed costs, work requirements, and material requirements are determined. Some may add another step here called procurement, during which materials are acquired and contracts for labor/specialists are figured. Other commercial contractors may consider procurement part of this step. 
  3. Execution. This is the implementation and construction phase. The bulk of this article will go into detail about this phase. This is basically when the building gets built. It starts right before the first shovel hits the dirt, and ends once the building is ready to use by the client.
  4. Post-construction. This is also called the monitoring phase, during this part of the project, the contractors and professionals pay attention to the building in use. They communicate with the clients to learn about how well the building functions. They may do some maintenance/changes if there are problems that need to be corrected. Check out our post-construction guide here for more info on it.

For a more detailed breakdown of the entire process, check out our article about it. We break it down into 3 main phases, each with several sub-phases.

Getting ready for the construction phase

Planning needs to be finished first.

All planning steps need to be done before you can execute. Just to be clear, this means that the following must be squared and ready to go, with contracts signed:

  • This means materials used will be on-site or en-route. 
  • Workers need to be on-site as well for ground-breaking.
  • Regulations must be met and legal authorities must be satisfied.
  • Specialists, such as architects and project managers must have clear agreements as to their parts. They must understand their roles and requirements.
  • Safety policies should be known by all parties.
  • There should be a timeline set.
  • A budget must also be decided beforehand.

Details of the construction phase

When everything is finally ready to go. Then it’s time to put shovels in dirt.

Basically, the plan here is to… follow the plan. Everything happening in the project should be more or less decided. Follow the schedule, follow the budget, everyone knows their jobs and expectations, so everything should work out.

Building 

This is the actual physical construction part. Workers use the materials acquired to make the building. Whether it is a renovation, new building, or some combination of the two, it’s similar. This is the making of the sausage as they say, and should go more or less according to the plans from steps 1 and 2.

Monitoring and changes

Of course, construction has uncountable factors that work into every project. Things are pretty much guaranteed not to go according to plan. There are numerous factors that can cause the project to have major changes. We can’t cover them all, but we can cover the major factors.

  • Weather is unpredictable. Flooding, tornadoes, derechos, earthquakes, strong winds, blizzards, extreme heat, and more can cause things to change drastically. Extreme heat can stop labor for safety reasons. Other destructive weather and disasters can actually reverse progress. You will certainly want some kind of building insurance for the case of extreme weather. 
  • Legal changes. If sudden zoning or legal changes affect the building, it can put the kibosh on the whole thing. In good scenarios, construction already began and the law only effects buildings made after the law’s passage. In the worst scenarios, the building construction is just abandoned. In most situations, the building construction may have to be moved, or some elements of the building changed.
  • Market changes. If something like, say a global pandemic happens, then your construction may be halted or abandoned. Materials may become scarce or prohibitively expensive. They might also take twice the previous time they took to be delivered. Additionally, new technology obviates the old, and it’s hard to say when that tech may appear. Building Blockbuster Video buildings in the late 90s, or shopping malls in the era of online purchasing may come to mind. This category also overlaps with legal changes, tax law changes may significantly reduce the profitability of the project in the short/long term.
  • Labor changes. Insurance requirements, strikes, and pay requirements may cause significant delays in your project. PPE requirements and training requirements may also change, which can cause slowdowns while you retrain your workers and acquire new gear.

​Use the execution phase for reflection on and improve your own building strategies

Any good commercial contractor will adapt their construction projects over time in order to improve them. They do this by gathering data and figuring out where the problems are coming from during construction. So, during the actual building phase of a project (and/or multiple projects) look for key things that can be improved.

  • Slowdowns and stoppages. Are there typically the same situations that cause them? Are the building slowdowns/stoppages happening because of lack of materials? If so, then your construction company needs to improve its planning/procurement phase. Are slowdowns happening because of the same subcontractor, again and again? If so, then you may need to hire a different group/person.
  • Accidents. Where are the accidents happening? Can a commercial contractor improve their safety standards to stop those accidents? How severe are they? Does your company need more safety briefings? Better PPE? Higher quality equipment? Maybe workers need better training.
  • What goes over-budget? If the same part of a project goes over-budget repeatedly, it may be time to reassess your budgeting/planning for the project.

Of course, this reflection can also be applied to positive parts of the project. Is anything going faster than planned? Is something markedly cheaper than you thought it would be? If so, then you know what parts of your planning stage are being done well.

Make sure you use a contractor who can adapt to the changing situation

Of course, nobody can fully predict what exactly will happen. Construction contractors can only hope to monitor for changes and adjust accordingly. If you aren’t sure what to expect from the changing future, or not sure you can adapt properly, then let a professional handle it. That’s where Reliable Commercial Construction comes into the picture. With over 35 years of experience, a dedication to customer service, and a team of about 200, we can adapt to changing situations and difficult progress in stride. Rely on us, commercial contractors who care, contact Reliable Commercial today to ensure your project goes smoothly and according to plan.